Exams mean stress. Stress means breakouts. Exam season already takes a toll on your mental strength. Don’t let its effects invade you physically too. Exams also mean hunger. All that concentration and studying results in hunger pangs and sugar cravings – everything you’ve worked so hard in avoiding. Which takes us back to our first point; please don’t pile junk up in your body, not only are sugar crashes horrible for your performance, but also cause you to break out. Here are some healthy alternatives you can turn to for stress relief (and comfort):

Dark Chocolate:

If nothing but chocolate will do, choose dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) to reap the feel-better rewards. Dark chocolate lowers levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. It contains sugar which releases serotonin (very important for a positive jolt in your mood). Make sure you keep tabs on the portions you’re consuming – dark chocolate is a high calorie food.

Crunchy veggies:

Fresh veggies offer light, nutrient dense calories that won’t bog you down. These can be anything you please, from carrots to celery.

Leafy greens:

mixed fresh salad leaves
Leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard are loaded with folic acid and improving folic acid status can help reinstate happy hormone levels because folate produces dopamine, a pleasure inducing brain chemical. They also contain magnesium, helping to balance the body’s stress hormone, cortisol.
For more sources of folate, try; beans, chickpeas, lentils, asparagus, avocado.

Omega-3 rich fish:

Surmai is an oily fish full of nutrients
Fish like salmon, surmai, tuna, sardines and mackerel are high in omega-3 fats which are brilliant for caging hormones like adrenaline to keep help keep you calmer during a fight-or-flight situation.

Whole-wheat snacks:

We’re all guilty of hankering over vending machines at uni or the work-place. Pick whole-wheat snacks to ensure the slow release of carbs and more fibre, keeping you fuller and more active for longer. Carbs also trigger serotonin – the “happy” chemical.

Milk:

Mum was right! The bone-building calcium in milk is not only good for your bones but also helps relieve tense muscles. It’s also loaded with protein, Vitamin D and B Vitamins. Hot chocolate, cow’s milk or even almond milk and good options.

Nuts:

Nuts are a healthy snack
It’s all about the healthy fats. Nuts strengthen your immune system quite a bit with vitamins and zinc (an essential mineral that helps reduce anxiety) – great for when stress runs you down and getting sick becomes second nature. Eating pistachios reduces stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Cashews are also a great choice.

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